After Thanksgiving Comes Santa Cat

Santa Cat came to visit today as I was trying to get back into the swing of things after Thanksgiving.  watercolor and gouache.

And time spent wondering why gouache turns so muddy when blending ‘primaries’.  Could be a sure sign that my ‘starter’ kit was just that: a starter.  I should probably toss the remainder and upgrade to a full set of the luscious paints by M Graham  Wonder if Santa Cat might drop something beneath the tree?  Hmmmmm

Santa Cat #1 - watercolor and gouache by Serena Fenton
Santa Cat #1 – watercolor and gouache

Crookshanks – a Portrait

While I am off at the movies, Crookshanks is keeping an eye out for Fantastic Beasts. Crookshanks’ portrait was this week’s #colour_collective  challenge, with sea blue wallpaper.

Crookshanks, watercolor, gouache and watercolor pencil 8"x 8"  by Serena Fenton
Crookshanks, watercolor, gouache and watercolor pencil 8″x 8″

Blue-Eyed Baby (Circus Cat #6)

As I’m working on this cat series, I’ve been viewing cat photos from the local animal shelters, which is a dangerous pastime.   There are so many beautiful cats out there, needing good homes.  But I am resisting visiting them and adopting them Painting only!

Circus Cat #6 - Blue Eyed Baby - Gouache on paper; 8" x 8"  by Serena Fenton
Circus Cat #6 – Blue Eyed Baby – Gouache on paper; 8″ x 8″ by

Golden Circus Cat

It’s Caturday just a little early, and I’m continuing my circus cat series.  Here’s #5. The background was selected for this week’s #colour_collective challenge, in brilliant gold; gouache and watercolor.

The gold watercolor from a jar of old, now discontinued, watercolor pigment that was made by Daniel Smith.  Sadly, they appear to no longer sell the pigments or the metallic dry powder.  I will have to use the remaining 18 grams wisely – of find a new source.

Circus Cat # 5 - Gouache and watercolor; 8" x 8" by Serena Fenton
Circus Cat # 5 – Gouache and watercolor; 8″ x 8″

Circus Cat #4

It’s a cat’s life.  Sleep, eat, sleep, chase the dogs. If only there weren’t these little hats. And posing for paintings…

Circus Cat #4 - watercolor and ink 8"x8" by Serena Fenton
Circus Cat #4 – watercolor and ink 8″x8″

What Happened??

Taking a break from my ongoing circus theme, just to ponder the last few days and what happened in this election.  Days like this definitely make you think.

What Happened? Gouache painting by Serena Fenton 8" x 8"
What Happened? Gouache painting – 8″ x 8″

Circus Cat # 3

With a background color chosen for the  #colour_collective challenge, using #moroccanblue, this is my third in the circus cat series.

The cat is watercolor.  I was asked on the previous cat painting how I got the fur strokes.  Those are done with a rigger (or liner) brush. There’s a bit of ink around the eyes and the nice flat background is done with gouache.

Circus Cat #3 - watercolor, ink and gouache 8"x8" by Serena Fenton
Circus Cat #3 – watercolor, ink and gouache 8″x8″

Spike the Circus Cat

Nope, Spike is not happy at all about being forced into a clown hat and then forced to pose.  What a cat has to do for his dinner…

This foray into circus cat painting began with watercolor, with acrylic paint used for the opaque background and highlights.

Spike the Circus Cat, water media 8.5" x 5.5" by Serena Fenton
Spike the Circus Cat, water media 8.5″ x 5.5″

Circus Cat

Working on more circus animals, this time: cats!  Background color determined by the week’s color for the  colour_collective challenge.  They named it  #maygreen .

Most of the work is done in a mixture of water media: watercolor, watercolor pencils and acrylic.  I like the idea of acrylic, but the final patina is never what I hoped.

Circus cat - water media 5.5" x 8.5" by Serena Fenton
Circus cat – water media 5.5″ x 8.5″

Circus Dogs

Since I am still struggling with Papier-mâché, but in love with circus performing dogs, I decided to just paint some of my dogs-in-mind.  The problems with paper mache is both the tools – Papier-mâché is inherently lumpy and the artist – I was working too small, so the lumps look like craters and mountains (see photo

Circus dog #5 water media water media .85" x5.5" by Serena Fenton
Circus dog #5 water media .85″ x5.5″

below).  Hence I decided to commit some of the animals that I am thinking of to the painted page.  #5 is my first shot.  The painting is a mixture of watercolor paint and pencils, then covered with ink and acrylic paints.

 

top layer - paper mache clay - circus dogs by Serena Fenton
top layer – paper mache clay – circus dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this is heavily inspired by a quick trip last week to the NC Renaissance Festival and an acrobatic troupe, Barely Balanced. (They really do need a dog though.)
Barely Balanced - acrobats at the NC Renaissance Festival

Barely Balanced - acrobats at the NC Renaissance Festival
Barely Balanced – acrobats at the NC Renaissance Festival

Barely Balanced – acrobats at the NC Renaissance Festival

Jumping Jack Russell

Fall is here.  The weather is gorgeous and it is a great time to get outside with the dogs.  Below is a quick pen and watercolor sketch of a jack russell terrier.

Jumping jack russell - ink and watercolor by Serena Fenton 5.5" x8.5"
Jumping jack russell – ink and watercolor 5.5″ x8.5″

Meadowlark Drawing

Meadowlark - pencil drawing with model by Serena Fenton
Meadowlark – pencil drawing with model

For the final day of the bird drawing class, we were lucky enough to have access to mounted birds from the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  Some of these were absolutely gorgeous.  A few were moth eaten or had been passed around to a few too many people. The dates on these specimens went back decades.  But having a bird that will sit still while you draw is a real thrill.

Look at the back claws on this baby! The name, meadowlark, sounds so pastoral, but those claws bring to mind cockfighting.  Perhaps the birds just need a really strong anchor on a branch on windy days?

The course was drawing, not painting.  Imagine how much fun this would be in full color.  I took several snapshots and am hoping to move on to the watercolors of him/her soon.

meadowlark-feet (detail)
meadowlark-feet (detail)

 

Bird Feet

Bird foot studies in pencil by Serena Fenton
Bird foot studies in pencil

Another from my class series in obsessive bird drawing.  This time – how to draw bird feet.  Learned many things:

  • The number of toes per foot are not constant from species to species
  • The scales on the feet, particularly those of raptors, help to hold the prey
  • There skin on the bottom and the top of the feet is markedly different
  • The toe that goes out in back can work similarly to a thumb to provide an opposable grasp

Having access to the stuffed birds is fantastic.  They are a loan from the NC Museum of Sciences.  The best reference though come from John Muir Laws in his many tutorials in drawing birds

Armatures for Papier-mâché circus dogs

Armatures for Papier-mâché circus dogs by Serena Fenton
Armatures for Papier-mâché circus dogs

Building tiny armatures of wire, tin foil and masking tape for papier-mâché circus dogs.

This new found passion began a few weeks back when I discovered myself without power during Hurricane Matthew, but recalling directions on how to cover plastic and styrofoam Dollar Store pumpkins with papier-mâché, I started wrapping some old pumpkins and cats’ heads in papier-mâché.  That was the most fun that I have had in ages.

Now, following directions in a great book, How to Make Tiny Paper Mache Dogs, I have started to make dogs to my own design.

 

 

New Found Humility

For the past few weeks, I have been taking a bird drawing class at our local botanical Gardens.  I have never taken a botanical class before.  Back when I got my degree in art ed, the focus was on abstract.  Being figurative was regarded as a sure sign of  repressed creativity.  I recall one painting professor who would hold all night painting sessions so that we could learn to ‘paint loose’.  His true preferred painting technique was to throw paint at the canvas.

It has been a huge surprise to find myself in a drawing course where the focus is on being really, really really tight.  Last week we focused on wings and feet.  Below is one of my wings.  We were encouraged to count and number the feather so that we got each one correct and in the right place.  All that I can say is that there are a boatload of feathers just on one wing!

Teal wing, pencil on paper by Serena Fenton
Teal wing, pencil on paper

Giddyup, Kitty!

Giddyup - ink drawing by Serena Fenton 3" x 8"
Giddyup – ink drawing 3″ x 8″

It’s a late start to #inktober this year. I did a bit of playing with vectorizing the image, which lets me play with the line quality on the computer! It’s also the only time that I’ve used Adobe Illustrator and not wanted to slap the computer.

Morning wakeup with cat

Why so daily?   Even on Friday!

This is my first run at this year’s #inktober (a bit early. I’m excited).

Wakeup with Cat - ink 5" x 8" by Serena Fenton
Wakeup with Cat – ink 5″ x 8″

Just Noodlin’ and Doodlin’

When in doubt, doodle. This is what my day looks like when something at work has me stumped.

Just Doodling - ink, colored ink and colored pencil  - 5.5" x 8" by Serena Fenton
Just Doodling – ink, colored ink and colored pencil – 5.5″ x 8″

National Potato Day – August 19

Happy National Potato Day – and beware! You may be keeping an eye out for those oversize zucchinis in this hot weather, but those potatoes can sneak right up on you.

Potato Day - ink drawing by Serena Fenton 8" x 8"
Potato Day – ink drawing 8″ x 8″

August 13 – National Bowling Day!

I’ve been pondering doing a series of days worth celebrating.  Here’s the first: August 13 – National Bowling Day!

August 13 - National Bowling Day! pen and ink 9"x 9" by Serena Fenton
August 13 – National Bowling Day! pen and ink 9″x 9″ by Serena Fenton

Flowers and Bees

A summer’s preoccupation in watercolor.  I am slowly coming to appreciate the massive variety in bees.  How did I not see it before??

Buzz- watercolor 8" x 8" by Serena Fenton
Buzz- watercolor 8″ x 8″

Excavations

Working in the garden lets me consider what all is going on underground. This is a quick reflection on the unseen.  Acrylic on watercolor paper.

Excavation - acrylic on watercolor paper 12" x 12" by Serena Fenton
Excavation – acrylic on watercolor paper 12″ x 12″